Forget everything you thought you knew about vampire stories. “Cuddles,” the chilling play running in the Hecht Studio Theatre this weekend, is an entirely different breed.
Directed by theatre professor Bruce Miller and starring BFA Musical Theatre seniors Hollis Williams and Annabelle Shea, “Cuddles” is one of the most daring shows produced in the Studio Theatre in years. Joseph Wilde’s play, fresh from its 2015 off-Broadway run, is a genre-defying horror that (literally) sucks the audience into its world.
“It isn’t your typical play,” said sophomore stage management major Narissa Agustin, the production stage manager. “‘Cuddles’ has something for pretty much everyone. It’s a psychological thriller that has its comedic moments.”
The show tells the story of sisters Eve and Tabby. Eve is a 13-year-old vampire who has spent her entire life locked in her dingy room reading storybooks. Tabby, her older sister, serves as her caretaker and as her source of nourishment, allowing Eve to gently suck her blood when she gets hungry. As Eve grows up and Tabby begins to build a life apart from her sister, their relationship changes forever.
The cast has been rehearsing weeknights and Saturdays since mid-September. Because the show is so thematically intense, it was a demanding job for the cast and crew.
“The rehearsal process has definitely been different from anything I’ve ever been in because it’s a two-person show,” said musical theatre major Annabelle Shea, who plays Eve. “The biggest challenge has been making our characters likeable while also keeping the story a horror.”
“We blocked the show in about a week, which is almost unheard of for most shows,” Agustin said. “It gave us more time to develop the characters and bring this show to life. Every single night, Annie and Hollis amaze me with the hard work they put in.”
“Cuddles” has also faced outside struggles. Although it was originally scheduled to open last weekend, the cast was forced to postpone the show because of the potential for extreme weather from Hurricane Matthew. The cast has also battled illness and the challenges of learning an immense number of lines. But finally, they’re ready to show the results of intense labor.
“Cuddles” is full of unexpected twists and turns, including a twist of an ending that both Shea and Agustin cited as their favorite part of the show. “It leaves the audience on the edge of their seats, wondering what happened,” Agustin said.
If You Go:
Where: Hecht Studio Theatre, 1231 Stanford Drive (on the second floor of Hecht Residential College)
When: Oct. 13-16. Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Cost: Free, but sign-up sheets to reserve tickets are posted on the bulletin board in the Hecht Theatre Department.